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Charlottetown spends more than $60,000 to keep its events development officer on the road

Wayne Long, Charlottetown’s events development officer, always has his suitcase handy. He spends roughly 150 days a year on the road trying to attract sporting events, entertainment, festivals, meetings and projects to the city. Long said he’s often competing against half a dozen or so other events development officers for the same events.
Wayne Long, Charlottetown’s events development officer, always has his suitcase handy. He spends roughly 150 days a year on the road trying to attract sporting events, entertainment, festivals, meetings and projects to the city. Long said he’s often competing against half a dozen or so other events development officers for the same events. - Dave Stewart

The City of Charlottetown will spend more than $60,000 this year to keep its events development officer on the road almost half of the year.

Wayne Long says he spends that time on the road – approximately 150 days annually – trying to stimulate economic, tourism, social and cultural events for the city. Long also works on initiatives and projects for the mayor and council while he’s on the road.

It comes at a cost – the city spent an estimated $50,000 in 2017. That’s up slightly from the $48,798 it had budgeted. The city has budgeted $62,500 to cover his travel expenses in 2018 and from January to March 2019.

“It’s a demanding position,’’ Long said in an interview. “People often say it must be great to spend so much time on the road. Without a doubt, people generally have an interest in travelling in life, but when you’re going on the road for your professional career, week after week after week and month after month after month, let me tell you it weighs heavily on you.”

Most of Long’s travel is Toronto-east, but there are times when he jets across the country or into the U.S.

“It’s tough and hard to balance your professional career with 150 days (on the road) . . . you also have a personal life that you also have to try and balance.’’

These are some of the special initiatives and projects Wayne Long has worked on as Charlottetown’s events development officer:

- Quebec partnership

- Birthplace initiative

- 2014/17 celebrations

- Victoria Park Cultural Pavilion

- Multi-purpose sport and entertainment facility to replace Eastlink Centre

When he’s on the road, he’s doing a multitude of things — researching prospective events, projects or activities, networking, closing deals, securing funding and having meetings with anyone from various organizations to the federal government. He also sits on two national boards and one regional board.

At home, Long also sits on the board of directors for the Charlottetown Special Reserve Fund, Bell Aliant Centre, Eastlink Centre and Meetings and Conventions P.E.I.

When it comes to justifying the cost of keeping Long on the road, Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee is fond of saying if Long wasn’t spending so much time away from Charlottetown he isn’t doing his job properly.

As for what the city gets out of it, Long points to a list of sports tourism events like the World Sledge Hockey Challenge last December.

“I would have gone to that event,’’ Long said, referring to how he helped lure it to Charlottetown, “researched it, looked at it, met with on-ground people that were hosting, met with local organizing committee members and matched our numbers against theirs to decide if this event has a good impact on our destination.’’

Long said that event alone made a $750,000 impact to the city’s restaurants, hotels, airport and downtown businesses. It also resulted in Charlottetown garnering exposure on TSN, which televised the championship game.

“The city doesn’t get a hard tax return like the provincial government does, but it makes our city vibrant, makes it alive and gives something for our residents to attend.’’

Long’s travels also helped Charlottetown submit the winning bid for the 2019 East Coast Music Awards.

Long said bidding on events often means it has to be done in person in front of a 15-member board, as was the case for the ECMAs.

“Bidding from a paper document is one part of the process but many times you have to defend it. Sometimes you need to do a larger presentation.’’

At least some of Long’s efforts must be paying off. The global sport index, an international body engaged by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance, named Charlottetown the No. 1 sport hosting city in the country for a population of 50,000 or less in 2017.

Twitter.com/DveStewart

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